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Sydney Pollack

Performer
( b. Jul 01, 1934 Lafayette, Indiana, USA - d. May 26, 2008 Los Angeles, California, USA ) Male
Relations: Brother of Bernard Pollack
Mr. Pollack’s career defined an era in which big stars (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty) and the filmmakers who knew how to wrangle them (Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols) retooled the Hollywood system. Savvy operators, they played studio against studio, staking their fortunes on pictures that served commerce without wholly abandoning art. Hollywood honored Mr. Pollack in return. His movies received multiple Academy Award nominations, and as a director he won an Oscar for his work on the 1985 film “Out of Africa” as well as nominations for directing “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969) and “Tootsie” (1982).
Last fall, Warner Brothers released “Michael Clayton,” of which Mr. Pollack was a producer and a member of the cast. Mr. Pollack became a prolific producer of independent films in the latter part of his career.

With a partner, the filmmaker Anthony Minghella, he ran Mirage Enterprises, a production company whose films included Mr. Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” and the documentary “Sketches of Frank Gehry,” released last year, the last film directed by Mr. Pollack. Apart from that film, Mr. Pollack never directed a movie without stars. His first feature, “The Slender Thread,” released by Paramount Pictures in 1965, starred Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft.

In his next 19 films — every one a romance or drama but for the single comedy, “Tootsie” — Mr. Pollack worked with Burt Lancaster, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Ms. Streisand and others.

Mr. Pollack developed a love of drama at South Bend High School and, instead of going to college, went to New York and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. He studied there for two years under Sanford Meisner, who was in charge of its acting department, and remained for five more as Mr. Meisner’s assistant, teaching acting but also appearing onstage and in television.

Curly-haired and almost 6 feet 2 inches tall, Mr. Pollack had a notable role in a 1959 “Playhouse 90” telecast of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” an adaptation of the Hemingway novel directed by John Frankenheimer. Earlier, Mr. Pollack had appeared on Broadway with Zero Mostel in “A Stone for Danny Fisher” and with Katharine Cornell and Tyrone Power in “The Dark Is Light Enough.” But he said later that he probably could not have built a career as a leading man. Instead, Mr. Pollack took the advice of Burt Lancaster, whom he had met while working with Frankenheimer, and turned to directing.

Lancaster steered him to the entertainment mogul Lew Wasserman, and through him Mr. Pollack landed a directing assignment on the television series “Shotgun Slade.” After a faltering start, he hit his stride on episodes of “Ben Casey, “Naked City,” “The Fugitive” and other well-known shows. In 1966 he won an Emmy for directing an episode of “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater.” In 1970, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?,” his bleak fable of love and death among marathon dancers in the Great Depression, based on a Horace McCoy novel, received nine Oscar nominations, including the one for directing.

Mr. Pollack reached perhaps his career pinnacle with “Out of Africa.” Released by Universal, the film, based on the memoirs of Isak Dinesen, paired Ms. Streep and Mr. Redford in a period drama that reworked one of the director’s favorite themes, that of star-crossed lovers. It captured Oscars for best picture and best director.

source: NYT Obit



Productions Date of Productions
The Dark Is Light Enough
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Sydney Pollack [Rusti]
Feb 23, 1955 - Apr 23, 1955
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